23. Nihil Obstat means there is nothing objectionable.
24. One can document case after case where errors are given such approval.
25. St. Thomas Aquinas, Catanea aurea, Oxford 1845. His commentaries on the Pauline epistles are available in English from Magi Books, Albany, N.Y., 1966. Cornelius Lapide's Commentary on the New Testament was published in English (Edinborough: John grant, 1908). If the post-Conciliar Church is truly interested in the salvation of souls, it could spend its money on republishing and translating such great works rather than in tearing Tabernacles out of Altars.
26. The Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirke Aboth), translated by W.O.E. Oesterley, London: S.P.C.K.,1919
27. Father Brown remains a priest in good standing. He is currently teaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York and is called by Father Kelly 'the Catholic Church's premier ecumenical biblicist.'
28. Stephen B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ. Quoted in No. 29.,
29. Father George A. Kelly, The New Biblical Theorists, Ann Arbor: Servent Books, 1983. Father Kelly exposes the new exegetes fro the frauds that they are, and argues that they are examples of 'abuses' in the post-Conciliar era. His argument falls short however in that they are not condemned (one knows what Pius X would have done), and in that he has nothing to say about the new false translations of Scripture that clearly have post-Conciliar approval at the highest level.
30. The nefarious origin of this type of scholarship in the 'Bible Destructive Group' established around the time of the French Revolution is well described by Dr. Ratibor-Ray M. Jurevich in The Contemporary Faces of Satan, Denver: Ichthys Books, 1985.
31. Those confused by the seeming contradiction of the Genesis explanation of the Creation and that offered in Ecclesiastes are referred to Wolfgang Smith, Teilhardism and the New Religion, TAN: III., 1988.
32. St. Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Poses, N.Y. : Paulest Press, 1978.
33. The first quote from his Commentary on Gal. V, the second is quoted in The Catechism of Perseverence by Monsignor Gaume, Dublin: Denzinger, 1888, vol. I.
34. This is now translated as 'take as a model of sound teaching what you have heard me say...' The other pertinent passage from 1 Tim. 6:20 - 'keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane novelties and words' is now translated as 'guard what has been committed to you. Stay clear of worldly, idle talk.' Other excellent references to the problem of bad translations are Ronald D. Lambert's Experiment in Heresy and Gary K. Potter's The Liturgy Club, both in Triumph (Wash. D.C.) March and May 1968. A similar pattern is to be found in the French translations. Cf. A propos d'une falsification do l'Ecriture par Gerard Garitte, Itinieres, Nov. 1977. An excellent discussion by a non-Christian is to be found in The Survival of English by Ian robinson, England: Cambridge, 1977.
35. St. Francis de Sales, The catholic Controversy, translated by the Rev. Cuthbert Hedley, O.S. B., London: burns Oates, 1909. The first quotation originates from the Fourth Session of the Council of Trent.
36. De fide ortho., IV, 10, col. 1128. Quoted by J. Tixeront, History of Dogmas, London: Herder, 1926.
37. Quoted by St. Canisius in his Summa doctrinae christianae, Augustae vincelicorum apud Carolum Kollmann, 1833.
CHAPTER IV, Part 1
JUST WHAT IS MEANT BY THE WORD 'TRADITION'?
Etymologically tradition simply means 'that which is transmitted,' or 'handed on.' According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (l908), 'traditional truth was confided to the Church as a deposit which it would guard and carefully transmit as it had received it without adding to it or taking anything away...'
As to the hierarchy, as Cardinal Franzelin puts it in his work 'De Divine Traditione et Scriptura': 'The Lord chose a body of men to whom he entrusted his Revelation. He sent them to preach this truth and he threatened punishment on those who would not listen to them... Entrusted with this mission, the Apostles and their appointed successors have taught all generations the revealed truth which comes from Christ.'
It should of course be abundantly clear that the Christian Revelation was complete with the death of the last Apostle. There is no such thing as 'ongoing revelation.' The Teaching of the Magisterium is quite clear on this issue: 'The Revelation made to the Apostles by Christ and by the Holy spirit whom He sent to teach them all truth was final, definitive. To that body of revealed truth nothing has been, or ever will be, added.'(3)
It should also be clear that this restriction on the hierarchy applies as much to the Pope as it does to any other member of the body of the faithful. As Cardinal Hergenrother notes (in the Catholic Encyclopedia), 'He is circumscribed by the consciousness of the necessity of making a righteous and beneficent use of the duties attached to his privileges... He is also circumscribed by the spirit and practice of the Church, by the respect due to General councils, and to the ancient statutes and customs' Now, this Revelation is given to us in Scripture and Tradition, and is preserved for us in the writings of the 'Fathers,' and the 'traditions(4)' of the Church. It is passed on to us through the various 'organs' of the Magisterium, of which the Pope himself is but one.
We have already discussed Scripture and shown that in fact, it is but a part of tradition. In the present chapter we will consider in greater detail this broader concept. And in doing so, we shall follow the pattern of theological texts by initiating the discussion with the following de fide statement taken from Session IV of he Council of Trent: 'Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, first promulgates with His own mouth, and then commanded to be preached by His Apostles to every creature, as the fountain of all, both saving truth and moral discipline; and seeing clearly that the truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions which, received by the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand; [the synod], following the examples of the orthodox Fathers, receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety and reverence all the books of both the Old and the New Testament - seeing that one God is the author of both, - as also the said traditions, those appertaining to faith as well as to morals, as having been dictated either by Christ's own mouth or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession... If anyone... knowingly and deliberately condemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema.'
Despite the distortions that mistranslating and private interpretation leave Scripture open to, and despite the fact that the various Protestant sects reject certain of the Biblical books of the Catholic Canon (as Luther repudiated both the Epistle of St. James and the book of Esther), the meaning of the term remains relatively clear. Such however is not true of the term 'tradition' which has been used in such a wide variety of contexts, and with reference to different aspects of the divine depositum. Some would limit its use to the divinely revealed dogmas not contained in Scripture, while others apply the term to cover the whole spectrum of Catholic teaching and practice(5). In order to clarify the issue theologians have defined Tradition as dogmatic or disciplinary from the point of view of its subject matter; and divine or divine-Apostolic from the point of view of its origin. It is divine or divine-Apostolic to distinguish it, on the one hand from ecclesiastical traditions, which are the precepts and customs long observed in the Church, and which, even if they might have been revealed, can only be traced back to post-Apostolic times, and on the other hand, from human-Apostolic traditions which trace their origin to the Apostles indeed, but not in their capacities as channels of Revelation(6). Normally such distinctions are important only to theologians and historians. In the current situation, where the post-Conciliar church is abandoning many of its ancient practices faster than it can invent new ones, the defense of the faith requires that we be familiar with these concepts.
Several points can now be made: First of all Tradition (with a capital 'T') as a source of Revelation refers to immutable things which cannot be rejected or changed regardless of whether they have been defined in a de fide manner or solemnly proclaimed to be such. Second, such Traditions include both Truths and Disciplines which have as their source Christ and the Apostles. Third, it is extremely difficult if not impossible, at this point in time, to distinguish between what is 'sub-Apostolic', what is truly 'divine-Apostolic'and what is of' human-Apostolic' origins.(7) Thus for example, in the Canon of the traditional Mass, apart from the Words of Consecration, we are by no means sure which parts are of divine-Apostolic as opposed to ecclesiastical tradition. It must be remembered that, as Cardinal Bellarmin states in his De Verbo Dei, Tradition is called 'unwritten,' not because it was never written down, but because it was not written down by the first author.(8) It may be reasonably assumed that the sub-Apostolic authors to whom 'innovation' was anathema, codified many 'customs, precepts, disciplines and practices' that were truly of Apostolic origin. Further, it must be stated that ecclesiastical traditions, while not carrying the same weight as Apostolic ones, certainly deserve our greatest veneration, and to reject them on the grounds that they are not 'divine,' is as absurd as to reject the canons of the Ecumenical councils because they did not derive from Christ Himself. As St. Augustine says with regard to the early bishops: 'what they found in the Church, they held, what they had learned, they taught; what they had received from the Fathers, this they delivered to the children.'
Hence it follows that as St. Peter Canisius states in his Summa Doctrinae Christianae, 'it behoves us unanimously and inviolably to observe the ecclesiastical traditions, whether codified or simply retained by the customary practice of the Church.' All these points are summed up in the following, taken from a standard theological text: 'There are many regulations which have been handed down with Apostolic authority, but not as revealed by God. They are merely Apostolic Traditions, in contra-distinction to divine-Apostolic Traditions. This distinction, though clear enough in itself, is not easy of application, except in matters strictly dogmatical or strictly moral. In other matters, such as ecclesiastical institutions and disciplines, there are various criteria to guide us; e.g. (A) the distinct testimony of the teaching Apostolate or of ecclesiastical documents that some institution is of Divine origin...; (B) the nature of the institution itself - for instance the essential parts of the sacraments... Where these criteria cannot be applied and the practice of the Church does not decide the point, it remains an open question whether a given institution is of Divine right and belongs to the Deposit of the Faith. IN any case, we are bound to respect such traditions, and also those which are merely ecclesiastical. Thus in the Creed of Pius IV [Creeds are part of the Solemn Magisterium - Ed.] we say: 'I most steadfastly admit and embrace Apostolic and Ecclesiastical Traditions and all other observances and institutions of the said church... I also receive and admit the received and approved ceremonies of the Catholic Church used in the solemn administration of all the Sacraments.'
Among the Traditions which are clearly of Apostolic origin are included 'the inspiration of the books of the Old and the New Testament, the power of the sign of the cross, the determination of the precise number of the sacraments, the baptism of infants, the validity of baptism administered by heretics, the substitution of Sunday for the Sabbath, the Assumption of the most Blessed Virgin, etc...'(10). One can add to this list the 'form' and 'matter' of the Sacraments, especially that of the Holy Mass, and the establishment of the Episcopate as the legitimate descendants of the Apostles. It is this latter act that carries with it the concept of tradition (with a small 't'), for the legitimate pastors of the early Church established the ecclesiastical traditions - the 'precepts, customs, disciplines and practices,' not as men establishing human customs, but either as codifying those they had received or learnt from the Apostles, or as members of that one body fashioned by God Himself and animated and directed by His Holy Spirit. 'Hence their testimony is not the testimony of men, but of the Holy Ghost.' As it states in the Epistle of Diognetus, Christians 'have no earthly discovery transmitted to them, and are not careful to guard any mortal invention.'
One is hardly surprised to find the majority of Church Fathers failing to make any clear distinction between Apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions. Cardinal Tixeront in his St. John Damascene states: 'St. Leo uses the word Tradition in its primitive sense of teaching and custom transmitted by word of mouth or practice.' He states elsewhere in the same text that St. John Damascene, 'like St. Basil... admits as a rule of faith, besides Scripture, certain unwritten traditions that have come down from the Apostles, and certain ecclesiastical customs that must be accepted as authoritative.' St Jerome also conceives of tradition in this broader contest: 'The traditions and customs of the Church can make up for the silence of Scripture [on many points] as may be seen in many of her practices.' Such an understanding is also reflected by Father Barry writing as recently as 1906: 'Catholics assuredly mean by Tradition the whole system of faith and ordinances which they have received from the generations before them... so back to the Apostles of Christ.' Finally, as st. Basil points out, it is always the heretics that reject tradition.
The Councils also reflect the mind of the Church on this issue. Thus Cannon III of the Council of Carthage and Cannon XXI of the Council of Gangra state that it is 'insisted that the unwritten traditions shall have sway.' the Seventh Ecumenical council states that 'if anyone disregards any ecclesiastical tradition, written or unwritten, let him be anathema,' and 'let everything that conflicts with ecclesiastical tradition and teaching, and that has been innovated and done contrary to the examples outlined by the saints and the venerable Fathers, or that shall hereafter at any time be done in such a fashion, be anathema.' The Second Council of Nicaea also condemned 'those , who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions and to invent novelties of some kind.'
Such also is the attitude of the saints and the Popes. St. Peter Damian (a 'doctor' of the Church) writes that 'it is unlawful to alter the established customs of the Church... Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set.' St. John Chrysostome states: 'Is it Tradition, [if so] ask nothing more.' As Pope Benedict XV said, repeating almost verbatim one who held the Chair of Peter almost a thousand years before (Pope Sylvester), 'Do not innovate anything. Rest content with the Tradition.' Not one Church Father, not one saint or doctor of the Church, and not one Pope (prior to the present era) has ever decried or attempted to change the ecclesiastical traditions.
All this is a far cry from the teaching of the New and post-Conciliar Church whose erstwhile leader, Paul VI tells us 'it is necessary to know how to welcome with humility and an interior freedom what is innovative; one must break with the habitual attachment to what we used to designate as the unchangeable traditions of the Church...' Judas could not have said it better!
1. A Manual of Catholic Theology, based on Scheeban's 'Dogmatic' by Joseph Wilhelm and Thomas Scannel, London: Kegan Paul, 1909.
2. Canon George D. Smith, The Teaching of the Catholic Church, op. cit.
3. In a similar vein: Fr. Daniel Lyons, Christianity and Infallibility, N.Y., Longmans Green, 1892: 'Neither the Church nor the Pope has power to add to it, or to take from, or to alter, in one jot or title, the contents of this Apostolic Revelation or deposit of faith.'
4. Tradition is further classified as objective when referring to dogmatic truths, and active by some in reference to the 'customs, precepts, disciplines, and practices,' and by still others when referring to the various organs of transmission such as the rites of the Church and the teaching Magisterium. It is called constitutive if it is established by the Apostles and continuative if of later origin. With regard to its relationship with Scripture, it is termed inherent (if what is handed on is clearly stated in Scripture), declarative (only stated in an obscure manner in Scripture and needing the help of Tradition to be understood, and constitutive (if not to be found in Scripture).
5. 'Every truth, every proposition of the deposit of Revelation is and has ever been implicitly of Catholic Faith; but that only those portions of it which have been authenticated by the infallible authority of the Church and by her proposed for the belief of all the faithful, are explicitly of Catholic faith.' Franzelin, op. cit, quoted from Daniel Lyons, op. cit., p. 214. The distinction is also discussed in Chapters II and V.
6. Many assume that Revelation only comes from Christ. While it is ultimately true that all Revelation comes from God, it may also come to us through the medium of the Apostles. The Christian Revelation was complete with the death of the last Apostle.
7. St Clement, fourth Bishop of Rome and travelling companion to St. Paul, is described by the early Fathers as 'sometimes Apostolic, sometimes Apostle, sometimes almost Apostle.'
8. contra Jul. Pelag. The Fathers of the Council of Trent were quite specific that 'truths and disciplines are contained in the written books and in the unwritten traditions,' but declined to specify these in an exact manner. The following passage from Rev. J. Waterworth's Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent (London, Burns Oates, 1848) is pertinent: 'These regulations having been completed, the private congregations proceeded to consider divine and apostolic traditions - such doctrines that is, and practices, as, taught by Jesus Christ and his Apostles, have not been recorded in the sacred writings, but have been transmitted in various ways from age to age. Numerous congregations, both particular and general were held on this subject. On the existence of such traditions all were agreed; but whilst some insisted that the received traditions should be distinctly specified, others were as urgent that they should be approved of in the most general manner possible, even to the exclusion of the distinctive term Apostolic, for fear of seeming to repudiate such usages and rites as could not be traced to that source... In the general congregation of the 5th of April, the Bishop of Chioggia raised a more intemperate opposition; regarding the traditions as laws, not as revelations; and pronouncing it impious to declare them as of equal authority with the written word. This sentiment had no approvers, but excited the indignation of the whole assembly...'
9. Tertullian in the following passage shows that the practices of the Church fall in the category of Tradition. 'If for these [the practices of the Church] and other such rules, you insist upon having positive Scriptural injunction, you will find none. Tradition will be held forth to you as the originator of them, custom as their strengthener, and faith as their observer. That reason will support tradition and custom, and faith you will either yourself perceive, or learn from some one who has.' Discussing the practice of women veiling their hair at Church, he continues: 'This instances, therefore, will make it sufficiently plain that you can vindicate the keeping of even unwritten tradition established by custom; the proper witness for tradition when demonstrated by long-continued observance...' De Corona, Chapter IV.
10. A Manual of Catholic Theology, based on Scheeban's 'Dogmatic' by Joseph Wilhelm and Thomas Scanell, London: Kegan Paul, 1909.
CHAPTER IV, Part 2
JUST WHAT IS MEANT BY THE WORD 'TRADITION'?
In order to better understand the relationship between Divine tradition and Ecclesiastical Tradition, we may draw a parallel between what is termed de fide definita or fide Catholica (truths divinely revealed by Christ or the Apostles and declared by the Church to be such), and what is termed de fide ecclesiastica (divina) or proxima fidei (revealed truths not as yet formally so declared by the Church). As Father Faber has said: 'There are three kinds of faith, human, which rests on human authority, and as such is uncertain and open to error; divine, which rests on divine authority, and ecclesiastical faith, which rests on the authority of the Church defining anything with the assistance of the Holy Ghost, through which she is preserved from the possibility of error; and this faith is infallible with a participated and borrowed infallibility, inferior in degree to divine faith, but with a certitude raising it far above human faith. If therefore anything be shown to be de fide ecclesiastica it is not only entitled to our acceptance, but it even overrules all opposition, as a man, though not formally a heretic, would, to use the common phrases, be rash, scandalous, and impious if he asserted the contrary.'
Yet there is one difference between Divine and ecclesiastical traditions. The former are immutable but the latter can be modified by appropriate authority. Such of course assumes that they can clearly distinguish - as in the various parts of the Mass - between these two. But 'modification' is a vastly different thing from the abrogations and changes that have been introduced by the post-Conciliar Church. How then do such legitimate modifications come about? The answer lies in the following principle. The true Church and faith are characterized as 'Living,' and the vine Christ established can always sprout forth new branches. It is not the newness of the leaf, but the 'sap' that runs in its veins that maintains both spiritual health and traditional integrity. The fact that the feast of Corpus Christi with public processions may have been introduced in the late Middle Ages (such was hardly a possibility in the times of Nero) changed nothing in the Revelation Christ gave us. It destroyed no pre-existing tradition, and indeed functioned to make teachings of the Church more explicit. Our ways of showing respect and honor to the Sacred Species may be modified, but this in no way changes our traditional reverence for the Body of Christ. Such an 'introduction' is in no way to be compared to the distribution of the Eucharist by unconsecrated hands under modern circumstances, or to the removal of tabernacles from our altars. And most certainly they have nothing in common with the promulgation of rites that allow for a Protestant understanding of the Sacrifice of the Mass. Such acts represent no 'flowering forth' of the vine, but rather desecrations and clear cut breaks with tradition. Again, 'new' customs can be introduced into the practice of the Church which are 'traditional' such as the Feast of the Sacred heart or the Rosary, but they are in no way 'innovations,' for they have their roots in sound doctrine, and are as it were, reverberations of the original deposit which can be likened to the ripples that a stone cast in to a quiet pond inevitably send forth.
A further extension of the concept of 'tradition' is to be found in the various 'organs' that are used to transmit the 'customs, precepts, institutions, disciplines and practices' of the Church to our generation. Thus Franzelin, the papal theologian at the First Vatican Council, describes what is handed down as 'objective tradition.' and the process of handing it down as 'active tradition.' Primary among these 'organs' are the Solemn Magisterium (dogmatic definitions of the Roman Pontiffs or Ecumenical councils, Professions of the Faith and theological censures, etc.); and the Ordinary or Universal Magisterium - which includes among other things the universal customs or practices associated with dogma and above all the traditional Roman Liturgy.
Clearly the traditional Mass combines all these aspects of tradition. Indeed, as Pope Pius XI said, 'it is the most important organ of the ordinary Magisterium of the Church,' and of 'the teaching of the Church.' It is, as the A.M. Henry, O.P. states, 'a theological locus of the first importance in knowing the living tradition of the Church.' Its content is partially of Divine origin, partially of Apostolic origin, and partially of Ecclesiastical derivation through as regards the Canon (the fixed and central core of the mass), with the exception of a few phrases, we are not sure which part belongs to which category - for as the Council of trent teaches, the Canon is 'composed out of the very words of the Lord, the traditions of the Apostles, and the pious institutions of the holy Pontiffs.' Though it has undergone various modifications throughout the ages, its essential nature has remained immutable and none of the parts known to be in its original form have ever been - prior to 1969 - deleted. As one theologian put it, 'were any of the early Christians to rise from their tombs in the catacombs, they would recognize in the Catholic worship of our times (needless to say, one is referring to the traditional Mass, and not the Novus Ordo Missae), not merely the elements, but also some details in the form of worship to which they were accustomed.' To quote Nicholas Gihr: 'Christ's example was the norm for the Apostles at the celebration of the Sacrifice. They did, first, only that which Christ had done before. According to His directions and under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they observed other things besides, namely, according to circumstances, they added various prayers and observances, in order to celebrate the Holy Mysteries as worthily and as edifying as possible. Those constituent portions of the sacrificial rite, which are found in all the ancient liturgies, incontestably have their origin from Apostolic times and tradition; the essential and fundamental features of the Sacrificial rite, introduced and enlarged upon by the Apostles, were preserved with fidelity and reverence in the Churches founded by them... certain ceremonies, for instance, the mystical blessings, the use of lights, incense, vestments and many things of that nature, she [the Church] employs by Apostolic prescription and tradition...'
No wonder then that the Abbe Gueranger states: 'It is to the Apostles that those ceremonies go back that accompany the administration of the sacraments, the establishment of the sacramentals, the principal feasts... The Apostolic liturgy is found entirely outside of Scripture; it belongs to the domain of Tradition...'
We must conclude then that the traditional Mass (as well as the other sacraments) are part of the Catholic Tradition. One cannot divorce the Magisterium from tradition for the Magisterium is, as the Catholic Encyclopedia states, 'the official organ of tradition.' Our faith then is totally dependent upon tradition and cannot under any guise depart from it. It is, as the Dictionaire de Theologie Catholique puts it, 'the faith that the Church (i.e., the Magisterium) teaches, for she has received it from the Apostles, and it is the norm of Truth.' And how could it be otherwise, for as Cardinal Saint Bellarmin says in his De Verbo Dei, one of the characteristics of tradition is that it is 'perpetual - for it was instituted that it might be continuously used till the consummation of the world...' Among the customs of the Church that he lists as examples of 'continuous usage' from the time of Christ to his day are 'the rites of administering the Sacraments, the feast days (Easter, etc;), the times of fasting, the celebration of the Mass and the divine office, et alia generis ejusdem (and things of a similar nature). Admittedly Bellarmin takes little pains to distinguish between what is 'divine' and what is 'ecclesiastical' in tradition; rather he describes it as an integral whole in which the distinctions are between the various parts. And indeed the distinctions that are are forced to make have about them a certain air of artificiality. One suspects that modern theologians have created such distinctions primarily to enable them to whittle away at the content of the faith. Thus it is that Boussuet defines Tradition as the 'interpreter of God's law,' and the 'unwritten doctrine coming from God and preserved in the feelings and universal practices of the Church.'
The 'traditions' - that is to say, the customs and practices of the Church which are not clearly Apostolic or sub-apostolic - are not opposed to Tradition, but the legitimate offspring of it; like Christ, the son is father to the parent. Thus it follows that one can speak of tradition in a still broader sense as the total influence of a Catholic society and culture upon the souls of its members. For example, however offensive it may be to modern eyes, the crawling of the Mexican peasant on her knees to venerate Our Lady of Guadaloupe can be called 'traditional' with complete legitimacy. The Catholic Encyclopedia (1908) expresses this well: 'This concept of tradition,' it states, 'is not always clear, but we endeavor to explain it to ourselves in the following manner: We are all conscious of an assemblage of ideas or opinions living in our mind... a common sentiment... a common spirit... The existence of tradition in the Church must be regarded as living in the spirit and the heart, thence translating itself into acts, and expressing itself into words and writings... this sentiment of the Church is peculiar in this that it is itself under the influence of grace. The thought of the Church is essentially traditional thought.' And why is this so' It is because those who are deeply steeped in the faith, whose patterns of life conform to the established and formal 'traditions,' find that their every act and thought is correspondingly influenced. Generosity, gentleness, courtesy, dignity and a whole host of similar qualities that reflect the divine virtues become a normal part of living. Such are not the qualities of the modern world, for 'the spirit of our times' is a rebellious spirit and has its origins in a very different source - one that can well be described as 'anti-traditional.'
Tradition then is a term that can be applied to the entire Christian ethos, and as such can be envisaged as a stately tree. Its roots are divine, and are often not clearly seen. They blend into the trunk which is solid, firm, and clearly visible - conforming to its 'ecclesiastical' and 'visible' nature. The branches can be likened to the various 'organs' of the Magisterium through which the 'sap' of the Holy Spirit constantly flows. The leaves, the flowers and the fruit complete the analogy - a living organism always changing with the seasons, always growing, occasionally losing a branch or bough, and yet always remaining essentially the same.
* * *
Now, if we have treated the subject of Tradition at great length, it is because the present situation demands a deeper understanding of the concept. The New and 'post-Conciliar' Church, despite its attempt to disguise the situation, represents a RUPTURE WITH TRADITION OF APOCALYPTIC PROPORTIONS. It is, to use the words of Pope Saint Pius X in his Encyclical Pascendi against the modernists, 'using all its ingenuity in an effort to weaken the force and falsify the character of tradition, so as to rob it of all its weight and authority.' In so far as the New Church teaches falsely (either by omission or commission) and replaces the 'customs, institutions, precepts, disciplines, and practices' of the traditional Church, not with alternative Apostolic actions, but with 'forms' of purely human origin, it follows the footsteps, not of Christ, but of the Protestant reformers such as Luther, Calvin and Cranmer. As to its magisterium, it can hardly be called the 'official organ of tradition' when it sets out to introduce among the faithful, entirely new rites modelled after the heretical forms of worship introduced by those who avowedly hate the true Church and deny her basic teachings. Nor can this 'new' and 'post-Conciliar' Magisterium proclaim as 'true' what the traditional Magisterium has defined as 'false' without in doing so denying the very possibility of truth, to say nothing of the inerrancy and indefectibility of the Church. To deny the traditions is to deny the inspired character of the Scriptures, to deny the rites of the Church, to deny the wisdom of the Fathers, the saints and the Popes, to deny many of the Sacraments, and indeed, to deny all that is truly cultured in the present world.
It will be argued and is to be admitted that the post-Conciliar Church has retained many 'traditions,' as indeed, in fact, the Protestants also did (such as going to Church on Sunday). In doing so however, she has preserved only those which are acceptable to the modern world and our 'separate brethren.' Listen to the words of Paul VI addressed to those Catholics who insisted on retaining the traditional Mass: 'It is for the Pope, the College of Bishops [and] the Ecumenical Council [Vatican II] to decide which among the innumerable traditions must be considered the norm of faith.' Now, apart from the fact that he places the Mass among the 'traditions' which can be changed, his statement is a reflection of that quality of 'picking and choosing' that St. Thomas Aquinas characterizes as typical of the heretic - it is nothing else than the exercising of private judgment - the collective private judgment of the modernists who have 'captured' the Church. Surely we should accept and revere all the traditions, and not just those which the modern world or our 'separate brethren' find acceptable. And such must be the case, for as Canon George Smith States, 'the duty of the Apostles and their successors was clear: to guard jealously the precious thing committed to their care and to transmit it whole and entire to posterity.' 'Even,' as St. Athanasius stated many years ago, 'if Catholics faithful to tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are in the true Church of Jesus Christ.'
In the present confusion is to Tradition and the continuous teaching of the Magisterium of the Church that the faithful must turn for guidance. Tradition is what the magisterium teaches and must for all times remain the 'rule of faith.' When doubt arises, the fathers and the saints have always turned to this source for clarification.
'I have often then enquired earnestly and attentively of very many men eminent for sanctity and learning, how and by what rule I may be able to distinguish the truth of the Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical depravity; and I have always and in almost every instance received an answer to this effect: That whether I or anyone else should wish to detect the frauds and avoid the snares of heretics as they arise, and to continue sound and complete in the Catholic faith, we must, the Lord helping, fortify our own belief in two ways: first by the authority of the Divine law, and then, by the tradition of the Catholic Church.'
No one can deny but that the post-Conciliar Church has abandoned many of the traditions of the Catholic Church - some of them, as the liturgy and sacraments, of fundamental importance. It has gone further and replaced these sacred traditions with man made creations which it demands that we accept under obedience. Those who have resisted have been placed under every form of psychological pressure to abandon their stand. (The use of physical force when it comes to religion is not the style of our age.) Faced as we are with innovation upon innovation - one is reminded of the complaint of St. Basil during the Arian persecution - 'only one offence is now vigorously punished, an accurate observance of our fathers' traditions.'
To argue that we need only accept what in tradition is clearly 'divine,' is similar to arguing that Catholics need only believe what has been proclaimed by the Church as de fide by the Supreme Magisterium. It is to attack the 'trunk' of the tree and to presume that the 'roots' will survive in spite of this. To divorce tradition from custom is to divorce faith from practice; to separate Christ's teaching from His actions, to consider the Apostles and their immediate spiritual descendants as inferior to ourselves in wisdom, and to refuse to Truth its legitimate manner of expression. To separate the Church from her traditions is to disrupt her 'unity,' and to proclaim she is no longer to wear the 'wedding garments' that characterize her as the 'Spouse of Christ.' To claim that we are other than traditional Catholics is to state that we are not Catholics at all.
Unless the New Church can claim and proclaim with her founding Apostles 'Ego enim accepi a Domino quod et traditi vobis - For I have received of the Lord that which I have transmitted unto you...' it is not the Church that Christ founded. As Cardinal Cajetan has said: 'note well that God's teaching alone is really the rule of faith. Although the universal Church cannot err in her faith, she is, however, not herself the rule of faith: the divine teaching upon which she is founded alone is such.' The faithful have every right to protect and preserve their faith and the only way they can effectively do so is to preserve intact the traditions of the Church of All Times. Beset as they are with every conceivable innovation, they have every right to ask with St. Chrysostome: 'Is it Tradition?,' and if not, to reject the change. Let us ask for nothing more.
'And we charge you, brethren, in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother walking disorderly, and not according to the tradition which they have received of me' (II Thes. 3:6).
'It is the most insolent madness to dispute whether that ought to be done which the whole Church does... impious... scandalous.... dishonoring the Church.... Not with those who invent and change, who propose and modify, who select and adjust, or who teach that men may change and modify, select and adjust, but with those who hold fast, who guard and follow what was once delivered.'